Personal Branding: how to sell your talent?
Building a personal brand is key to succeeding in this difficult economy, and many experts would argue that your personal brand is the most important thing to establish when building a career. So what is a personal brand?
Your brand is, in simple terms, the recognition for something you’ve done- or the reputation you build for yourself amongst others. It’s what your name represents, and it’s what people- in particular business associates and potential employers- look for when associating themselves with you.
An important thing to consider, as an article from forbes.com points out, is that most of us already have a personal brand- whether we’ve consciously established it or not. As contributor Shama Hyder states: “the question is no longer IF you have a personal brand, but if you choose to guide and cultivate the brand or to let it be defined on your behalf”.
This is because, with our unavoidable presence on the internet and in social media; most of us are trailed by some sort of reputation. In fact, our presence online is so defined, that studies suggest that 92% of American toddlers already have an online presence. So if small children aren’t immune to the reputation that precedes them, we certainly aren’t.
The good news is that, even if you already have a personal brand, you can most definitely change it. In fact, building on your personal brand (or creating a new one that is more suited to your needs and goals) is an excellent way to market yourself and sell your talent.
For this reason, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of ways to help build your personal brand, and sell your talent the right way.
#1 Use our S.T.A.R. system
Personal branding is particularly important when you consider our economy. With the rise of the “sharing economy”, your reputation matters. This is because a sharing economy, as well as “collaborative consumption”, relies on individuals sharing possessions as opposed to owning them. However, if you don’t have a respectable personal brand, people won’t want to collaborate with you. Which means that your services will lack marketability, and your business will become much more liable to fail. So how can you build your personal brand in a way that’s attractive to others?
One way to do this is to use our S.T.A.R. system. This is a tried and tested system that incorporates all the necessary key values to help you succeed.
The acronym, which will help you establish influence and authority, is as follows:
S = Support. Supporting others is key to helping yourself as much as those in need. It emphasizes your compassion, and reinforces the strong values you hold (that other people desire).
T = Trust. Trust is the strongest currency in the world, because the more trust people have in you, the more you can gain on a personal and professional level.
A = Attention. We’re living in an extremely populated world, where it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to attract attention. However, attention is key to building a successful brand. So try and advertise yourself by creating useful and attractive products, or solving previously unsolvable problems.
R = Respect. Respect is second to trust, and it’s particularly important that you respect others- thereby earning respect from others too. It’s really important that an element of respect is involved in your personal brand, because it’s a quality that people of all ages and backgrounds value in an associate or colleague.
#2 Become a figure of authority
Having some sort of authority, over a business or topic for example, is incredibly desirable to others- and it’s a good look for your brand. It shows that you have the strong qualities of leadership, which include honesty; confidence and commitment (among others). Becoming a figure of authority is simple, you just have to commit yourself to what you want, and have a strong presence in your desired area. Above all, however, you need to have strong communication skills. The ability to communicate, both face to face and through social networking, is key to you becoming an authority. People with power have a large network of contacts, that they’ve established through excellent communication.
Our website, for example, is an extremely useful tool for building the connections you need to become an authoritative brand. The purpose of our site is to create key business and personal relationships with others, in an attempt to showcase your skills; reviews and attitude. Building these connections is key to gaining authority, and building your personal brand.
#3 Showcase your content and your creativity
Making content, especially content that is of high quality, is very important when building a personal brand. It’s a great way for you to sell your skills, and for others to see your talent in a physical form. What’s more, it shows that you’re creative, which is a trait that is particularly in demand these days.
The Harvard Business Review illustrates this point by reminding readers that “Sharing the content you’ve created allows potential customers or employers to test-drive your approach before making a large commitment.” For this reason, it’s important that your work reflect your skills, and that your content becomes a portfolio of your abilities for others to sample.
Your content can be showcased in the form of a television show or podcast, a blog, a series of articles or even a book. By creating excellent content, you can associate your name with respectable work. And as anything associated with your name becomes your personal brand, you can reap the benefits of your content by creating a great personal brand.
The Harvard review goes on to say that, as well as creating good content, it’s important that you showcase it on an established platform. The article suggests that “After you’ve demonstrated your ability, solidify your rebrand by associating with the leading organizations in your field. Make a focused effort to publish in respected journals, speak at industry conferences, or take on a leadership role in your trade association.”
What’s more, use your initiative and submit your content to any variety of publishing companies or agencies. Even if submitting your work to a third party means sacrificing a portion of the profit, it’s a worthwhile longterm investment, as it means your content is being shared with those in your field.
The Complete Guide To Building Your Personal Brand further reinforces the importance of showcasing your creative content, by stating that “People that successfully build their personal brands will launch their own personal websites. On those websites, people will create portfolios that showcase previous work.” What’s more, they advise people to “Build your
portfolio with an eye on your career vision and keep building as you reach each next step.”
#4 Have direction
It’s difficult to try any of the steps mentioned above without direction. Direction is arguably the most important thing to consider when building a personal brand, as it gives you a goal to work towards. Without a goal, you will have no purpose, and your portfolio will be a collection of random content that shares no common ground. If you have something to work towards, however, then all of your work will follow a similar theme- which is appealing to others, as it shows consistency. What’s more, if you have a specific goal, then what you have to do in order to achieve it will become much clearer. It’s easier to understand the steps required to become the CEO of a named company as opposed to a “success in finance” for example.
So how do you find direction? Well the first thing to consider is what you hope to achieve. Visualize yourself in five, ten, fifteen years time- and decide where exactly it is that you want to be.
As QuickSprout suggests, in order to determine your goal, you first have to “Determine the aspects of your life that have been rewarding”. There’s little point in choosing a goal that has no relevance to your interests or passions, so consider what it is that makes you feel rewarded on a personal and professional level.
Once you’ve determined what it is that interests you, consider it on a more specific level. Combine it with your other passions, and describe your goal as realistically as possible. Perhaps you’re interested in technology, and design, and nonprofit organizations. However, you lack the experience or education to become a programmer, and you don’t have the initiative to begin a nonprofit-technology based organization. So instead, combine your interests and find a more suitable end-goal, like an administrator at a technology firm that prioritizes charitable work.
As QuickSprout highlights, its important to consider your values when determining your end
goal, and to understand the need for a “ balance in your career that can yield both success and satisfaction as it relates to your aspirations and your values”.
Once you’ve established where you want to be, it’s as simple as working backwards. Find out what it is you need to do to become the ideal candidate, find out what strengths your personal brand should focus on, and work hard to achieve it.
#5 Think of yourself as ‘human brand’
As an article by Forbes points out, when building your personal brand it’s important that you begin to live your brand. This means that you should “Start thinking of yourself as a brand” and behave as you would want to be perceived. However, the article also highlights the importance of “authenticity”.
People value an element of humanity where personal brands are concerned, and for this reason it’s important that you build your brand authentically. Don’t make false claims or promises, for example, as this will lead to a bad reputation when the truth eventually comes to light. You should try and retain an element of honesty and transparency, which will in turn make you a trustworthy figure.
What’s more, you should show that you have compassion and an interest in others. The risk you run by thinking of yourself as just a “brand”, is that you become too focused on your personal interest and gains, which can appear selfish or inconsiderate to others. For this reason, you should attempt to be helpful towards others. Share your skills by helping and volunteering for those in need, and be active in your professional and personal community. In such a way, your brand will have the needed dose of authenticity and humanity for it to appeal to a larger demographic.
As the Harvard Business Review points out, being charitable can also mean being strategic. Volunteering your time is an excellent way to network with others, while showing your selflessness. In fact, the Harvard Business Review claims that “Volunteering on political campaigns or for charitable causes is one high-profile way to make new contacts and develop new skills”.
#6 Keep track of your online presence
Most people are regular internet users, and our presence online is near unavoidable. Social media is an essential part of our day, and search engines are a necessary tool in just about any task we choose to perform.
However, where your personal brand is concerned, the internet can become a liability. Your presence online plays a huge part in your personal reputation, as most people rely on the internet to give them information on others. For this reason, when building or reintroducing your personal brand, it’s really important to create a filter for what you and others post on your social media profiles. Don’t associate yourself with content that you feel doesn’t represents your brand, and more importantly, focus on posting content that reinforces what it is you would like to be known for.
A recent article by Reuters reiterates the importance of tracking your online presence by reminding readers that “when we are online someone, somewhere is watching what we’re doing, what were saying and what we’re posting”. For this reason, the article states that “it’s important to apply the golden rules of etiquette, manners and respect to your online life just as you do in real life, helping ensure you build and maintain your personal and professional brand now and into the future”.
One way to ensure that your personal brand is being represented accurately online is to approach the internet as an extension of reality. Before posting a picture or status, consider “Is this what I would want my boss to see? Is this what I would like my colleagues to associate me with?”. Reconsider any negative or highly controversial content you may be tempted to share, and evaluate whether this is a worthwhile use of your internet presence.
However, there’s no reason to fear the internet. Social media platforms are a great way to showcase your talents, and network with other likeminded individuals. Our website, for example, was established primarily as means to do just this. We aim to connect professionals with each other, and help them establish important professional and personal relationships.
Building a positive internet presence is, for this reason, important. In fact, as an article by inc.com points out, in order to succeed- you need to create a positive social media presence as a means to reinforce your brand. The article suggest that you should “flesh out your social media profiles” and ensure that you pay particular attention to “the details of your social media profiles, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and make sure they’re consistently in line with your personal brand standards”.
#7 Network with others
As we’ve established at number 6, social media is important when building a personal brand, as its provides an opportunity for you to connect with other important people. This falls under the umbrella of networking, which is extremely important for those looking to create a strong personal brand.
As inc.com points out, networking is “the key to sparking growth in your personal brand”. Meeting others in your field is an excellent way to make valuable connections, and build relationships with people that can help and advise you as you progress in your career.
The internet is not the only way to network, and often, networking in person can be far more effective. People are more likely to remember a face than an email, and by introducing yourself to others, you can build your brand on the basis of you being a confident and approachable person.
One way to network in person is to attend local and international networking events. As inc.com points out, it’s extremely important to “Attend professional networking events to meet influencers in your area…engage in community discussions whenever you can. The more opportunities you have to meet people and talk, the better”
Networking is also a great way to find opportunities, and whenever you network, you should view your interaction as the beginning of a potential opportunity. Behave professionally, and highlight your interests and experience.
However, remember to focus on the person you’re talking to, and show an interest in their lives and accomplishments. Try to find some common ground, and express your interest in meeting them again in the future. In fact, a blog post by Dale Carnegie Training suggests that you should end a conversation with “It was a pleasure meeting you, (name). Perhaps we could have coffee in the near future”. Moreover, they suggest that you “Present your business card so that the type is facing up toward the other person. When given a business card, stop and read it and comment on the design. Check to see if there is a mobile number and email address. If not, ask for it.”
#8 Promote your brand
Once you’ve created a personal brand, it’s important that you promote it. You can promote your brand in a number of ways, but doing so effectively is key to ensuring that your reputation precedes you in both your professional and personal circles.
One recommended way to promote your brand is to have business cards. An article by Careealism comments on the importance of having business cards, stating that they are “consistently shocked by the number of job seekers who have absolutely NO way of letting other people know how to contact them other than by shoving a resume in their face”.
When it comes to business cards, Careealism suggests that you take a “minimalist approach. Put your name, e-mail address, phone, and LinkedIn profile address. You don’t need a title or a cute picture. Get a non-glossy finish and leave the back empty so people can jot down notes about you”.
Aside from sourcing good quality business cards, many professionals highlight the importance of having a succinct but powerful “pitch”. This is a little presentation you can give about yourself, that lists your skills; assets; experience and any other necessary information.
In the personal branding industry, a personal pitch is commonly referred to as “an elevator pitch”, and it should be kept short. In fact, as Business Insider points out , you should “ make sure you can tell your story in 30 seconds” and “keep out any irrelevant details that take away from your core message”. These elevator pitches are a great way to prepare yourself for networking events, where you have a limited amount of time to introduce yourself and your brand.
However, when preparing your elevator pitch, or any presentation about yourself- you should focus on adding character to your speech. As Strikingly points out , “quantifiable stats on increasing customer satisfaction and driving revenue are boring and hollow and generally say very little about character and capability”. In short, this means that very few people are as interested in your statistics as they are about your personality. Your first impression is extremely important, and the people you introduce yourself to will be more impressed by a strong and charismatic narrative than a dull and rehearsed spoken resume.